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Rick’s Reef: Turning Over a New Leaf on St. Pete Beach

The following article appears on the St. Petersburg Foodies website. It was written by Lori Brown on April 25.

Rick’s Reef

Having lived on St Pete Beach many moons ago, I never would have thought of Rick’s Reef for food. I remember it as a friendly watering hole. We were contacted by the GM, Tyler Hipsley, who invited us in on Friday, April 13th for a meeting, so we decided to order lunch too. Hipsley took over managing Rick’s Reef in 2016 and has been working tirelessly to get the word out about the change in management and the major improvement in their food.

There are very few places on St Pete Beach with a history like Rick’s Reef. It first opened as a drive-up hot dog stand called Larry’s Luncheonette in 1939. To this day, it still has the original floor. In the 1960’s it became The Capt. Zak Restaurant, then Spoonbills, Bobby’s Place, and The Reef.

Several years ago The Reef closed. One of its regulars, Rick, not wanting to lose his favorite bar, decided to buy it, renovate it and re-open as Rick’s Reef in August 2012. The new owners decided to keep the name.

Fresh Food Not Fast Food

They now tout Rick’s Reef as a place “Where old world Florida meets new world taste!” And they promote it as a “relaxing, enjoyable dining experience in a friendly, fun and family-oriented atmosphere”. The family part is very important. It’s not just a bar anymore. And the food is fresh, not frozen, with many items made in-house.

When we arrived, I was quite surprised at how bright and welcoming the restaurant area feels. I remember The Reef as being very dark and dingy. Certainly not a place I would imagine bringing kids. How that has changed! It now has a terrific, upbeat vibe that any family would enjoy.

Now onto the food. We decided to start with the Jalapeño Corn Fritters. These are served with shark sauce or Thai chili sauce. We chose to try both. I am not quite sure what I was expecting, apparently, the word fritter didn’t register with me, because in my mind I thought they would be more like a popper. Instead, they were very similar to the consistency of a hush puppy. Still, they were tasty and there was quite a generous amount. I really liked the mix of the sweet (corn) with the spicy (jalapeño).

Jalapeño Corn Fritters

When trying new places, we tend to order items that we both feel are benchmarks in our minds. Kevin, loving tacos, ordered the Baja Tacos with a side of homemade potato salad. They are made with fresh Mahi-Mahi, grilled or blackened, and served in two flour tortillas with Baja sauce, a cabbage and cilantro mix, mixed cheese, and diced tomatoes. Not being a fan of tacos and because I can’t eat cilantro, I did not try these. Kevin described them as fresh (the taco shells and the fish), plump and juicy. He also said that the cabbage and cilantro mix matched well with the spicy, tangy Baja sauce.

Baja Tacos

I am a major Philly Cheesesteak or French Dip, pretty much any kind of steak sandwich lover. So as soon as I saw The Big Dipper on the menu, I knew what was going into my belly. Our server, Jonah, also confirmed my choice. It is made with shaved rib-eye topped with provolone cheese and served on a lightly toasted hoagie with au jus for dipping. You can add grilled onions, peppers, or mushrooms for $.50 each, which I did. In the past ten years, I can name four places that I have had excellent, fresh steak sandwiches: The Tap Room at The Hollander (they have since changed it and it is no longer on my tops list), The Galley, Lenny’s in Clearwater and now Rick’s Reef. The bread was soft, fresh and lightly toasted and the meat was tender, sliced thin and just succulent. Not to mention the fresh, hand-cut fries which were impossibly addictive.

The Big Dipper

We were so impressed with our lunch, and there was so much more that we wanted to try, that we ordered dinner to go. Kevin weighing in on the healthier side ordered the Fresh Salmon served with deep fried corn on the cob and a vegetable medley. Every entree comes with a choice of two sides. That corn on the cob was soooo good: buttered, salted and deep fried. YUM! He said the Salmon was good but a little on the dry side. Then again, we did take it home and reheat it. Not the best choice for a re-heatable dinner.

Fresh Salmon

Kevin always says that whatever I order is always better. Typically we share everything but on this occasion, we just tasted each other’s. I chose the Mile High Meatloaf served stacked with homemade mashed potatoes in between and underneath and topped with onion rings and the aforementioned fantastic deep fried corn on the cob. Again, great meatloaf is hard to find, where it is not slathered in ketchup and not dry. This meatloaf was sublime and now I have one other place, besides Callaloo, in which to get my fix. It was hearty, juicy and savory. The mashed potatoes had little chunks of potatoes and were creamy and satisfying. And the gravy had terrific flavor. Kevin snuck what was leftover later when I fell asleep.

Mile High Meatloaf

We really had no idea what to expect when we went to Rick’s Reef and had not even planned on writing this piece, but we enjoyed it so much that we definitely needed to share about this great surprise.

**The entrees that we bought to take home we asked them to plate for picture purposes and then they packed them to go.

 

 

 

 

A Bar with Fun & Games!

Great Games

Rick’s Reef has a fabulous collection of your favorite leisure time activities. If you are looking for a bar with fun & games, look no further than Rick’s Reef on St. Pete Beach.

Wallhooky®

One of our favorite games, for one, two or more, is Wallhooky®.

This game is sometimes called the Bimini Ring Toss Game, Hook Game or Hook Ring Game. This bar game has origins going all the way back to the 12th century. Wallhooky® is an inexpensive way for the whole family to compete in a game that can be played indoors or outdoors.

Corn Toss

A beach favorite, Corn Toss (or Cornhole, Bean Bag Toss, Baggo, Bags, Dummy Boards, Dadhole, Doghouse, Sack Toss, depending on the region you hail from) is one of our most popular games. It is a beach game in which players take turns throwing bags of corn (or bean bags) at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. Play continues until a team or player reaches (or exceeds) the score of 21.

Cornhole matches are played with two sets of bags, two platforms, and two to four players.

Giant Jenga

Jenga is played with 54 wooden blocks. Typically the blocks have small, random variations from these dimensions so as to create imperfections in the stacking process and make the game more challenging. To set up the game, stack the tower to eighteen levels of three blocks placed adjacent to one another along their long side and at right angles to the previous level, As an example, if the blocks in the first level lie lengthwise north-south, the second-level blocks will lie east-west.

Once the tower is built, the person who built the tower gets the first move. Moving in Jenga consists of taking one and only one block from any level (except the one below the incomplete top level) of the tower, and placing it on the topmost level to complete it. Only one hand may be used at a time when taking blocks from the tower. Blocks may be bumped to find a loose block that will not disturb the rest of the tower. Any block that is moved out of place must be returned to its original location before removing another block. The turn ends when the next person to move touches the tower or after ten seconds, whichever occurs first.

The game ends when the tower falls, or if any piece falls from the tower other than the piece being knocked out to move to the top. The winner is the last person to successfully remove and place a block.

Beer Pong

Beer pong, also known as Beirut, is a drinking game in which players throw a ping pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer on the other end. The game typically consists of opposing teams of two or more players per side with 6 or 10 cups set up in a triangle formation on each side. Each team then takes turns attempting to shoot ping pong balls into the opponent’s cups. If a ball lands in a cup (known as a ‘make’), the contents of that cup are consumed by the other team and the cup is removed from the table. The first team to eliminate all of the opponent’s cups is the winner.

Great Fun

Wonderful people make Rick’s Reef the perfect place to have some fun in the sun. Over the years it has become THE gathering place for people with an upbeat personality and a zest for life. New friends are made every day, and often the friendships span the country and last forever. And a great way to start new friendships is in the competition of a fabulous bar game!

Great Bar with Fun and Games

The best choice on St. Pete Beach for a bar with fun & games is Rick’s Reef. Stop in and check it out! You’ll be glad you did.

Best Breakfast on St. Pete Beach

Best Breakfast on St. Pete Beach

Best Breakfast on St. Pete BeachThe Best Breakfast on St. Pete Beach is served at Rick’s Reef on Gulf Blvd. If you are looking for fresh ingredients lovingly prepared by hand, specifically to your order, you won’t find a better option than Breakfast at Rick’s Reef. Available every day. Monday – Friday from 7 am to 11 am and Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 12 pm. The menu is extensive and the dishes are made just right! Not just any breakfast, …it’s the BEST breakfast. And don’t forget the Bloody Mary Bar and Endless Sangria and Mimosas on Saturday and Sunday 7 am to 3 pm.

Eggs Ben-Addiction!

Eggs Benedict on St. Pete Beach at Rick's ReefSure, we’ve got a traditional Eggs Benedict! But why stop there? How about a Deep South Benedict? Smoked pulled pork and fried onion straws topped with BBQ sauce. Maybe a Crabby Benedict? Crab Cakes topped with hollandaise sauce.  Or our favorite, the Florida Native Benedict! Grouper, sliced tomatoes and spinach topped with hollandaise sauce. We’ve got eleven different Benedicts to offer! THAT’S Eggs Ben-Addiction!

Omelettes

Best Omelette in St. Pete Beach at Rick's ReefThree egg omelettes? We got ’em! Cheesy, Western, Mexican, Greek or Philly! Love your Veggies? We gotcha covered. Do it Florida style! Or try our Sponge Bob – crab stuffed with onions, peppers, and mixed cheeses. And if you are on the run, wrap your omelette in a tortilla and take it to go! If you are looking for the best breakfast omelette on St. Pete Beach, you’re going to find it right here at Rick’s Reef. Come check it out!

Traditional Breakfast Favorites

Traditional breakfast favorites on St. Pete BeachRick’s Reef is committed to providing the BEST BREAKFAST on St. Pete Beach, and that means we have to offer all your favorites. Pancakes and French Toast, Waffles and Homemade Chicken and Waffles, we got ’em all! Corned Beef Hash? Oh yeah! Country Fried Steak and Eggs? Yes, sir! Maybe you’re just looking for some Biscuits n Gravy. We have that. Whatever your particular favorite is, we’re sure to offer it, hand-made, to your order. And, …as always, …fresh ingredients!

We’ve got the best breakfast in St. Pete Beach, and all you need to do is come on by Rick’s Reef. Check out our menu here.

 

 

Best Bloody Mary Bar

Best Bloody Mary Bar

Best Bloody Mary Bar in St. Pete BeachThe BEST Bloody Mary bar in Florida is right here in St. Pete Beach! Every Saturday and Sunday, between 7 am and 3 pm, you can experience the Bloody Mary of your dreams! Whether you like it hot and spicy, garnished with celery, a pickle or an olive or hot pepper, you can build the perfect Bloody Mary for YOUR tastes!

At the Rick’s Reef Bloody Mary bar we have a broad selection of hot sauces, ground peppers, and nearly everything you could imagine adding to a Bloody Mary. BUT! If you have a particular hot sauce or spice you like that we don’t have, bring a bottle to contribute and we’ll add it to the Bloody Mary bar!

When it comes to creating a drink customized just for you, right here in St. Petersburg Florida, you cannot do better than Rick’s Reef Bloody Mary bar every Saturday and Sunday. Stop by to check it out, and let us know what you think. We’re working hard to make it the very best that it can be, but we’re listening! Tell us what you want!

Endless Mimosas and Sangria

Endless Mimosas in St. Pete BeachAlong with Florida’s BEST Bloody Mary bar, Rick’s Reef offers endless Mimosas and Sangria every Saturday and Sunday between 7 am and 3 pm. We make your Mimosas and Sangria with the best ingredients, …and a little love.  Get your weekends off to a proper Florida start with your favorite morning drink, and relax while we create a hand-made breakfast you will never forget. It’s all about FRESH! There’s just no better way to start a day at the beach!

Endless Sangria in St. Pete BeachSo make St. Pete Beach your weekend destination, and make the Rick’s Reef Bloody Mary bar your starting place. Whether Bloody Mary, Mimosa or Sangria, we’ll get you the perfect drink to sip while you enjoy the beach-vibe decor as we build you an AWESOME breakfast to get your beach day off to a fabulous start!

Looking for laid-back fun? Rick’s Reef has got ya covered!

Bloody Mary Ingredients

Christmas Time and Santa Claus

Breakfast with Santa

Christmas Time on St. Pete Beach - Breakfast with SantaIt’s Christmas time at Rick’s Reef on St. Pete Beach! Come for breakfast and hang out with Santa Claus! Bring your kids and take pictures of them with the jolly fat man! (Bring your camera!)

Rick’s Reef will provide a free pancake breakfast for your kids, and activities to keep them in the Christmas time mood. It’s going to be a great morning for the whole family. Mark your calendar and join us for the fun!

Breakfast with Santa – Saturday, December 16th, 2017, 8 to 11 am

Paws and Claus

Christmas Time on St. Pete Beach - Paws & ClausSanta LOVES pets and wants to meet yours! Following Rick’s Reef’s “Breakfast with Santa,” you will be able to bring your pet in and take a picture with Santa. (Bring your camera!) Get that fabulous image of your precious loved one with our favorite Christmas time character.

We understand just how important your pet is to you, and how much a part of your family they are. In some instances, your pet IS your family! So include them in your Christmas time celebrations. Included them in your holiday photos.

Paws and Claus – Saturday, December 16th, 2017, 11:30 to 1 pm

 

 

 

Best Chicken Wings in St. Pete Beach

Best Chicken Wings, St. Pete Beach? Right here at Rick’s Reef!

Whether you are visiting St. Pete Beach on vacation, or are a local here in the 33706 area code, we know you want the 411 on Chicken Wings at the beach.


We start with fresh, never frozen, chicken and we prepare a full pound of Chicken Wings with your favorite sauce.  We have a wide variety of sauce choices, which include mild, medium and hot Buffalo Sauce, Garlic Parmesan, Teriyaki, Jamaican Jerk or Blackened.


As a matter of fact, all the food at Rick’s Reef is fresh. They don’t even have a walk-in freezer! So all the food is brought in unfrozen and is cut and prepared on-site. The sauces are made by hand in the kitchen every morning, and the smoked items are done in our very own smoker here on the premises.  Fresh is flavorful and better for you! It’s a big part of what makes us “best.”


Best Chicken Wings, St. Pete Beach!


So if you are looking for the best chicken wings, St. Pete Beach, your search is over! But that’s not the whole story. Rick’s Reef will serve your Chicken Wings with a great big smile in one of the neatest casual dining spots on St. Pete Beach. We have a big, outdoor patio, and plenty of indoor seating with cool, funky beach decor. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the place is always clean.


But it’s about a lot more than the Best Chicken Wings! You want a place you can take you family and friends where you’ll feel comfortable and relaxed. You want a place that feels beach-y, but one that’s clean and inviting. And Rick’s Reef, on St. Pete Beach is that place.


Now you know! When you are ready for the Best Chicken Wings in St. Pete Beach, head straight to Rick’s Reef at 6712 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706.

 

Rick’s Reef Continues Old Florida Traditions

Rick’s Reef is a unique location steeped in history and the staff take pride in being a place where Old World Florida meets New World taste. Since Larry’s Luncheonette opened on this very spot in 1939 things have changed as the restaurant evolved but the area’s colorful past is always celebrated.


One nod to the past that has an interesting story starts with Rick’s Reef smoker. The Smoked Salmon served on Saturday’s has a direct link to the beginnings of the island and the original inhabitants that gave a beloved little beach town its famous name.


While there is still some debate about how Pass-A-Grille got its name it is generally accepted as being French origin. The phrase “La passe aux grilleurs” is literally translated as “passageway of the grillers” and legend has it that French speaking fishermen would grill their meals on the southern tip of Long Key. In 1841 the name appeared on a map as Passe aux Grilleurs and over time became anglicized to Pass-A-Grille.


As the air around Rick’s Reef is filled with the aroma of smoke it hearkens back to a time when the fishermen on the island were called grillers. It was common practice for the grillers t0 dry their salted catch on wooden frames in the hot Florida sun. More than likely the name sprung from the fishermen who preserved their daily haul by smoking it over a slow burning fire.


Carib Indians are said to have taught French pirates the practice of grilling fish over an open fire. The word buccaneers likely came from this method as well. The French called fish cooked in this manner “boucan” and anyone who cooked it was referred to as “boucaniers.”


Whether you are a griller or a buccaneer the tradition of fresh fish, slow-smoked, has been a part of the islands from the very beginning. Rick’s Reef pledges to deliver the best seafood on the beach and you know you are in for a treat when you smell that smoker burning.


T0 be fair there are other theories about how Pass-A-Grille got its name, like it is Spanish for “over the bar.” This is said to refer to long shoal near the entrance of the pass but there is little basis for it. Another is it could have originally been Paso de Grillo or “Pass of the Cricket” but again, there is no history of the island every being overrun by crickets.


The St. Petersburg 1909 city directory claimed the name came from a “French explorer in the earliest day” and it means “grilled passage way” because of a “grill shape.” But there are no recorded visits of French explorers to the area so that one is unlikely also.


In an 1840’s survey a French guide was hired and supposedly told the government survey crew that the name was “Passe aux Grillard” which meant “pass where men grilled something.”


Thankfully the grilling, and the smoking, of fresh fish continue to this day at Rick’s Reef where it is truly a traditional island restaurant where Old World Florida meets New World taste.

Best Fish Spread in St. Pete Beach

Looking for the best Fish Spread on St. Pete Beach?

Best Fish Spread, St. Pete Beach? Right here at Rick’s Reef! Whether you are visiting St. Pete Beach on vacation, or are a local here in the 33706 area code, we know you are interested in the Best Fish Spread at the beach.


We start with fresh, never frozen, Salmon, or Mahi Mahi, from a local fish house. (Whichever is available fresh) We have our own smoker in-house, and we slowly smoke the fish for 6 to 8 hours before hand crumbling it in preparation for mixing. Fresh vegetables are delivered daily, and hand cut.
You may not know this, but all the food at Rick’s Reef is fresh. They don’t even have a walk-in freezer! All the food is brought in unfrozen, and is hand cut and prepared on-site. The sauces are made by hand in the kitchen every morning, and all the smoked items are done in our very own smoker here on the premises.  Fresh is flavorful, and better for you! It’s a big part of what makes us “best.”


Classic Fish Spread on St. Pete Beach!


Prepared with fresh ingredients to a classic Fish Spread recipe  right here on St. Pete Beach, your search for the best Fish Spread, St. Pete Beach is over! But that’s not the whole story. Rick’s Reef superb staff will serve your Fish Spread with a great big smile in one of the neatest casual dining spots on St. Pete Beach. We have a big, outdoor patio, and plenty of indoor seating with cool, funky beach decor. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the place is always clean.


But it’s about a lot more than the Best Fish Spread! You’re looking for a place you can take your family and friends where you’ll feel comfortable and relaxed. You want a place that feels like an old beach shack, but one that’s clean and inviting. And Rick’s Reef, on St. Pete Beach is that place.
Now you know! When you are ready for the Best Fish Spread, St. Pete Beach, head straight to Rick’s Reef at 6712 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706.


Your search for the Best Fish Spread in St. Pete Beach is over!

Best Cheeseburger in St. Pete Beach

Looking for the Best Cheeseburger, St. Pete Beach?


Rick’s Reef on St. Pete Beach starts their Cheeseburger with fresh high-quality beef, hand pattied, and cooked to order, topped with your choice of cheese, and hand cut fresh vegetables all served on a delivered-daily bun, this is absolutely the best cheeseburger on St. Pete Beach. Whether you are a local, living in the 33706 area code, or are here visiting on vacation, be sure to check out the Cheeseburger at Rick’s Reef.
All the food at Rick’s Reef is fresh. We don’t even have a walk-in freezer! The ingredients for the food are brought in unfrozen, and are cut and prepared on-site. The sauces are made by hand in the kitchen every morning, and the smoked items are done in-house in our own smoker here on the property.  Fresh tastes better, and is good for you! It’s a major part of what makes us “best.”


Why is it the Best Cheeseburger on St. Pete Beach?


Rick’s Reef is committed to creating the best food possible for it’s entire menu. That starts with carefully considered recipes. While the food items may seem simple, like Meatloaf and Cheeseburgers, the key to a fabulous dish is often found in the particular ingredients that are the basic building blocks of an incredible meal. At Rick’s Reef, we have chefs with a lifetime of experience and knowledge, and they have helped us develop the incredible recipes that we start with. As we’ve already said, those recipes are made with high-quality, fresh, unfrozen ingredients which are hand cut and assembled to order. No frozen patties or week old buns for us!
But it’s about more than the Cheeseburger! We serve hand cut French Fries, Cole Slaw made by hand in-house, and a variety of other fresh sides. And we serve it to you with a smile! We work hard to keep the restaurant clean, and the atmosphere pleasant and inviting. We know it’s the entire experience that counts. So the Best Cheeseburger on St. Pete Beach needs to be served in the coolest restaurant, by friendly and efficient staff. And that’s what you’ll find at Rick’s Reef.


That’s why Rick’s Reef is the Best Cheeseburger, St. Pete Beach!


So if you are looking for the Best Cheeseburger, St. Pete Beach, your search is over! But that’s not the whole story. Rick’s Reef will serve your Cheeseburger with a great big smile in one of the neatest casual dining spots on St. Pete Beach. We have a big, outdoor patio, and plenty of indoor seating with cool, funky beach decor. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the place is always clean.


You want a restaurant you can take your family and friends where you’ll feel comfortable and relaxed. You want a cool place that feels casual, but one that’s clean and inviting. And Rick’s Reef, on St. Pete Beach is that place.


Now you know! When you are ready for the Best Cheeseburger on St. Pete Beach, head straight to Rick’s Reef at 6712 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706.